Thank you to everyone that entered our short story competition, we have had some amazing stories and after a long deliberation we have picked our three winners!! Have a read of the winning stories below, we definitely enjoyed reading them all.
3rd Place - A hearty potato is not what it seems
Maybe it was planted too deep, or it was fed with the wrong fertiliser but there was one thing definite. It would cause mischief wherever it went…
“Quick, come here. I’ve got something to show you!”
A mum had just been peeling some potatoes when she saw it, but it wasn’t like the rest, it was-
“Beautiful, isn’t it” she showed her kids the heart-shaped potato. “I was right to have bought our vegetables from the “Imperfectly Tasty” selection. I told you there would be benefits.”
“But it’s just a potato,” one of her kid’s stated plainly.
“No, it’s a heart-shaped potato!” she exclaimed, defending her beloved potato. “I think I’ll leave it on display on the mantlepiece.”
Her children sighed but the mum was too proud to notice, she was still in joy from her find, unaware of the problems it would cause her…
Late in the night, on the mantelpiece, underneath those Christmas cards, that still hadn’t been taken down, the potato cackled, eerily into the night but only heard in the family’s nightmares. It was planning, plotting, celebrating; every second now its plan was developing- once it was planted nothing could stop it.
“And then we can show it off to the…” the mum was going on about what to do with the potato, the next morning- so much that the kids needed to distract her. “…guests at the next-”
“I know!” said one of her kids. “Why don’t you plant it!”
“But why would I-”
“Because then you’ll have more heart-shaped potatoes, right!”
“Of course! Then I could give-”
“Yes, yes, why not plant it now!” said one of her children, ushering her mum outside.
And so, the deed was done: the devil potato had been planted.
“Ah! That’s so much better! I hate being out of the ground!” the devil potato’s voice was low and threatening. The other plants were shocked by the new arrival. Murmurs passed through the garden. Who was he? Where were the other potatoes? Was he meant to be here? One brave onion plant took the first step to being neighbourly-
“Hi! Welcome to the-” he was stopped by the devil potato’s strange actions. Madness glowing through his potato eyes, the devil potato was unleashing its roots throughout the whole garden. “What’s happening!” The plants were no longer in control of themselves, the devil potato laughed with dark humour- nobody could ever compete with or destroy him!
“Alright, the guests will arrive soon, I just need to add some fresh herbs into the soup,” stated the mum, going out to the garden. Unusually, the herbs were a bright green colour, instead of the usual yellow and brown due to her bad gardening skills. She shrugged.
“Well, I guess those gardening videos paid off!”
She took a selective handful of herbs and returned to the house- the garden chuckled behind her.
“Alright, so I’ve made a soup for the starter with fresh herbs from our garden,” the mum explained, whilst spooning generous portions of soup for the guests. A guest eagerly put a spoonful of soup into his mouth. Unluckily for him, his spoonful happened to have a large sprig of thyme in it…
“Mm, it’s delicious how did you-” the guest coughed spluttering the soup all over the table.
“What is it!” exclaimed the mum, worried she had cooked the soup wrong.
“Potato!” he exclaimed “Potato!”
He couldn’t explain what he was experiencing to the people who had gathered. A potato, an evil potato? What was going on! He slowly felt himself descend into slumber or death- he couldn’t know. Was the last thing he remembered going to be an evil potato? Was he going mad? There was a potato… a… a… potato: he descended into a deep sleep.
The whole table was left in shock, nobody dared to eat the soup. One by one, the guests made up excuses to go home early. The victim of the soup woke up and went home, oblivious to what had happened. The family sat pondering.
“I don’t know what happened!” the mum said, staring at the bowl of soup with dismay and confusion. “What was all that about a potato?”
“The heart-shaped potato!” exclaimed one of her kids.
“How would our guest know about that though?” the mum asked.
“Well, what other potato could he be talking about?! You did plant the herbs and potato in the same garden, I’m not sure but something could’ve happened!”
“But what could have happened?”
The potato could not help but chuckle to himself as he heard the family talk about their mealtime drama.
Feeling sad, the mum went outside and saw the potato plant had started to grow some leaves. She stared at them. Wait, was there something about those leaves? She stared again, then at some other leaves in the garden. To her surprise, she noticed something, something that couldn’t be real, yet it was. All the leaves in the garden had the same shape- the shape of a horned face, the devil’s face… She had a realisation but was still trying to convince herself, never mind worrying about how to convince her family! Could the potato be evil?
She rushed inside. Adrenaline coursing through her: she needed to tell someone what had happened, no matter how bizarre it seemed, it must be true. She was about to call her family when-
It felt like the ground was shaking. She looked outside to see huge stalks and leaves sprawling from underneath the house and growing fast upwards. She knew what to do.
“You thought you could defeat me!” shrieked the potato. “No one shall ever destroy me!”
The family were frozen in fear- life was no longer what it seemed. Since when, had there been giant, talking evil potato plants?!
“I WILL DESTROY-”
The plant collapsed, lifeless! One spray of Grandpa Joe’s trusty weed killer had been enough. The pesky, devil potato was finally destroyed. The yellow-brown herbs could smile again.
The bell rang as Jake ran down the corridors. He was late to his first class. “Sorry Cass, i gotta go” he panted before slamming open the door. “Nice of you to finally join us Jake” the maths teacher replied from the front of the class. A groan left his lips as he realised that he was in for a detention. Less time to spend with Cass. He stumbled to his seat, cheeks flushed. Maths went how it usually did; slowly. Too slowly for the young brunette. When the bell finally rang he stayed seated. “So you were late to my lesson, again. Just because of what happened does not mean you should show up late to class with no valid excuse”. Jake knew there was no point in trying to argue, best to just nod and agree. “You will sit here for 20 minutes, then you may go to lunch”. 20 minutes dragged as he stared at the wall. Closing his eyes for a moment he felt a rush of something overcome him. There was a flash of blue and red lights and the sound of screaming. But a voice jolted him out of his thoughts. “You can go now, I hope that you have learnt your lesson”. The boy just nodded. Everything had felt so real. The day was a blur for him after that.
When he got home he simply flopped onto the couch with a groan and within a minute Jake was asleep. His dream started out like any other normal dream. A silly thing like wearing pyjamas to school. Before he knew what was happening he was lying on his back with a crushing weight over him. Red and blue light flashed all around. People were saying his name and other things that he couldn't quite comprehend, he felt something cool drip down his face onto his hand, he looked to see red liquid. He woke up with a start. Lifting a hand to his head but there was nothing. It was just a dream he repeated, like some kinda mantra. But it hadn’t felt like a dream.
The next day at school was just as bad. He had managed to get another detention. This time for not doing his homework. It went the same as yesterday. Slow. After that he decided to take a trip to the library. His favourite spot. It was empty as usual other than the librarian. She was a young woman in her mid twenties. “Jake, how you feeling today?” Should he tell her? “Well I've been having this dream recently. There are flashing lights, and screaming and all these voices.” “Oh you poor thing, not a shock after what happened to you last year, well i should get back to work. But if you ever need anything then I'm here”. She hurried away, back to sorting out the books. On his way home Jake thought about what she had said. After what you’ve been through. That confused the boy.
Who should he ask? Just as the thought crossed his mind he saw his friend Jen cross the road ahead of him. “Jen, Wait for me” He called out after her. She didn't stop, he realised she had headphones in so he ran to catch up. By the time he did he was out of breath. “Oh sorry, I didn't hear you,” she said sympathetically. “Yeah, It's fine,” he said between breaths. “So i got a detention yesterday” He started off “whatever for” She cut in “I was late to class” Jake explained. “You, late to class, Never!” “I was talking with Cass then I lost track of time” He told her. She stared at him with a look of shock “Cass?!” What was she so surprised about? “Yeah, Cass. My boyfriend” her expression did not change “Jake, are you feeling alright?” “Yes, why?” He snapped. “Because Cass died 3 months ago” Was she trying to joke? How could he be dead? He saw Cass Yesterday. Jake took off in a run with Jen calling out behind him.
The front door slammed open. The walls began to push towards him and his chest began to compress. There was fire spreading through his body, burning aggressively. A figure appeared in front of him “Jake, can you hear me” It was his mum. He nodded weakly, “Let's get you up” she helped him up off the floor and to the worn sofa. He took deep breaths and waited for his heart to stop pounding. Slowly his ears stopped ringing and he could just about think clearly. “Mum, what happened last year?” his mother looked down at the floor for a moment before raising her head to meet her son's piercing gaze. “You and Cass were driving back from a day out. It was dark when suddenly a car appeared and swerved into you. The other driver died on impact, but you and cass were still hanging on. Someone called the police, and an ambulance. By the time the ambulance got there, Cass had bled out. You were crushed under some of the metal but they were able to save you. After that I took you to a therapist. I thought everything was fine but then you said about how you were talking with cass. And going into town, i wanted to tell you but you seemed so happy. I just didn't want to put you through that pain”
No more words were exchanged, the two just sat there hugging each other, shaking and crying.
Two weeks had passed since Jake found out about Cass. when he decided to pay his grave a visit. He laid down a bouquet of roses. Cass’ favourite. His family had spoken to Jake and they had exchanged stories of the beloved boy. Standing in the rain he said “I’m sorry you had to leave so soon, I know you want me to be happy, so I'll live my life for the both of us, I love you."
1st Place - Between you and me
Life known to mankind has changed completely. Nothing is as it used to be.
Emily Bennet was at Roxon Laboratory where she worked as a biochemist. Her work wasn't as interesting as others would think, but either way, interesting or not, Emily loved her job. She loved the idea of being able to help people.
Shortly after her lunch, Emily heard a shrill scream coming from the back of the building. Without hesitation she went out to see the reason for this cry. Near the door was a tall woman with brown hair who seemed to have slipped and fallen. Emily noticed that the woman had a scratch on her right arm. It seemed to have been caused by an animal and not by the fall, but she did not give it much importance and with some coworkers approached the woman to assist her. They helped her to stand up again and the woman’s expression changed from a face full of terror and pain to a completely neutral and calm one, as if nothing had happened. The woman continued walking, without saying a word. Emily thought that such behaviour was strange but she couldn’t waste her time thinking about it.
When Emily got home after work, she turned on the television and, as usual, put on the news. To her surprise, the news talked about an interesting and disturbing event.
"This afternoon in different regions of the city, people that were outside have suffered a sudden attack that left them on the ground. After only a few seconds these people have gotten up and continued as if nothing had happened. Doctors and scientists are surprised and still do not know the cause,” narrated the news lady.
Emily heard another scream. This time it came from the television. She recognized the woman who had fallen that day, running towards the news lady with supernatural speed. The news lady ran away from the camera's view and the woman crashed into the camera, cutting off the broadcast signal.
Before the signal disappeared, Emily noticed that the woman’s eyes were a deep red. They looked empty, without life. She knew something was wrong, but what was going on?
Emily’s thoughts were interrupted when she heard one of the windows in her house break. Before she could react, one of those “beasts” was charging towards her to attack. Emily reacted just in time. Without a second thought she ran as fast as she could towards her back door. The streets were infested. There were thousands of creatures outside houses, trying to get into them. It seemed that some had already managed it, as there were broken doors and windows on both sides of the narrow streets. Emily slipped through the crowd of these creatures, trying to pass unnoticed. She reached the forest, which she thought would be empty; but she found a man.
She couldn't see if he was infected or not since he had his back to her. Emily slowly approached the man, being very careful in case he was infected, but luckily, he wasn't. His eyes were an intense dark blue that shone like the night.
"Hi, my name is Jack," informed the man upon noticing Emily’s presence.
“Emily,” she replied. “Do you have any idea what is going on?” Any kind of information would be useful right now. Something bad was happening and she needed to know what it was if she hoped to survive.
“Those people look like some kind of zombies, I don't know much, but I've seen that when they attack and scratch someone, the victim becomes one of them. All I know is that it is not safe to stay here. We need to go somewhere further from town.”
Emily and Jack searched for a place where they would be protected. They came to an area of the forest that seemed far enough from all the villages.
It was starting to get dark. Through the trees Emily could perceive a humanoid shadow approaching them. She alerted Jack and they ran towards a cave that was nearby.
After a few minutes of waiting, Emily began to get impatient.
"Do you think it's gone?" asked Emily. "We've been here for a really long time."
"I don't know. I'll go and investigate. Stay here and don't go out, no matter what happens," Jack replied and without another word, he left the cave.
Minutes passed and Jack still did not return. Emily began to worry and decided to leave the cave to search for Jack. She walked for a few minutes and soon realized she was lost. She didn't know where she was or how to get back to the cave. She walked a little more trying to find her way back but she couldn't do it. She was exhausted and couldn't keep walking aimlessly. She decided to sit down to rest a while and think about what she would do next.
Again, she saw a shadow moving through the trees, but this time, she was able to recognize the shadow. It was Jack!
“Jack! I am so glad you are here, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left the cave.”
Jack didn't answer. He just kept walking towards Emily. An inhospitable silence filled the air.
“Jack?” asked Emily in a threaded voice.
Before she could do anything else, Jack attacked her.
Emily woke up from that terrible nightmare she had had.
"It was only a dream," she told herself.
She jumped out of bed and headed into the living room but something was wrong. She saw someone sitting on her sofa and, again, she recognized the figure.
It was Jack! His eyes were closed and he seemed to be smiling.
“Jack?!” exclaimed Emily.
He was silent for a moment, as if he hadn't heard her, and after a few seconds he slowly opened his eyes, which were no longer a dark blue, calm and beautiful like the night, but a deep red, as bright as blood.